Often it’s being said that once you book through a third party channel such as online travel agents (OTA) on a prepaid hotel booking you give all cards out of the hands when it comes to compensation for problems should any arise.
In fact that’s not all that true as Orbitz is known for offering fix value discount coupons of US$50 for reasonable issues and can also negotiate with a hotel to authorize a refund should the guest wish to cancel.
You can access Orbitz here.
As written previously I like to use Orbitz for bookings with hotels that don’t have their own (or any) loyalty programs since it’s a good way to get an instant 15-20% off.
Every now and then I get a hotel that’s really not a great choice and some even have hard issues such as smelly rooms and dirty bathrooms.
I made one bad pick this week when I booked the APA Hotel Kyotoeki-Horikawadori for a total of US$99 after discount. After checking in I noticed the room smelled absolutely horrible and was definitely a smoking room. It’s peak season in Kyoto right now and the front desk let me know there was no other room available.
I decided to give Orbitz a call and expressed my intention to cancel the stay due to the issue mentioned. Prior to that I negotiated with the hotel that they would agree to a cancellation and they eventually agreed, not without mentioning the possibility of a charge back with American Express.
The Orbitz agent was professional and competent in dealing with the matter, he just had to call the hotel to get verbal confirmation that he is allowed to refund without penalty.
The agent offered to deposit a US$50 discount coupon into my account. Now keep in mind these $50 aren’t Orbucks, they count as a fix amount discount code which means you can’t use any of the current 15% off coupons for the new reservation.
Obviously that also means considering if it’s worth it making a reservation with this coupon and the answer is clearly that it only makes sense to do so for cheaper hotels.
I managed to book a significantly better hotel in the same area (walked there within 5 minutes) and paid just $26 more which I’m glad to do if that ensures a proper sleep.
Now the display of this doesn’t make much sense because the price was displayed as US$146 before tax, $175.08 including tax minus the $50 coupon. Using just the 15% off coupon JUSTLIKETHAT would have saved me $20 so in reality this compensation I got was today worth additional 30 bucks. Anyway I wanted to clear this account out so I used the coupon.
When having a prepaid booking that always adds hassle especially if it’s an independent hotel where you don’t hold any status to turn up the pressure if things go wrong. I only use them when absolutely necessary and if it’s the most sensible option.
I had Orbitz come through for me 3-4 times over the last few years to fix things and issue such a discount voucher. I don’t recommend abusing this option too much because I’m sure there will be notes on the account for notorious callers.
Do you have such experience with other OTA’s as well? Leave a comment below for other readers reference.